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27 Jun 2022

'Deleterious Products' case taken by homeowners

Coleman Legal in Donegal to meet prospective litigants

'Deleterious Products' case taken by homeowners

The legal firm, Coleman Legal LLP, is making no charge appointments available to anyone in Inishowen or wider Donegal whose properties have been adversely affected by defective concrete and defective concrete products.

The appointments with members of the Coleman Legal team will be available in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana, on June 15 and 16, and can be arranged by emailing: defectiveblocks@colemanlegal.ie or phoning Sumedhaa on 01 531 3800.

Coleman Legal LLP is currently taking a 'Deleterious Products' case against Donegal County Council, the National Standards Authority of Ireland and a quarry.

Speaking to Inish Times / Inish Live, Dave Coleman, owner of the practice said he had more than 200 clients instructing the firm to sue the three organisations.

Mr Coleman said: “At present, in relation to the 'Deleterious Products' case, we have more than 200 clients, and that number is growing daily, with people who are instructing us to sue Donegal County Council, the quarry owners and the [National Standards Authority of Ireland] NSAI, the people responsible for standards in Ireland.

“We have selected and agreed with up to six Pathfinder Plaintiffs. These are lead plaintiffs who will take the main cases to decide the issue involved, depending on the type of property. There are certain circumstances which are different in every case.

“A very big thank you to our first plaintiffs, William and Grainne Doherty, for deciding to be one of the six. It gives people an opportunity to follow their lead.

“At present we have commenced issuing writs for non lead or non pathfinder clients and we will be continually issuing from here on against those three parties,” said Dave Coleman.

Mr Coleman said it was important for people to understand there was no cost to participation in the case.

He added: “People do not have to pay us any fees to join the case. They do not have to pay our experts any fees. All of the work is being done on the not-for-profit basis at this time and being funded in that way.

“We have instructed international and national experts and over the last eight months we have prepared the case to the point now where we can commence issuing writs and proceeding with the case against the Defendants. There is an awful lot of research required. This is not something we are entering into lightly.

“In relation to whatever grant scheme is ultimately agreed, this case is taken with a full allowance for that grant to be received by people. We encourage people to have their participation in the grant scheme as front and centre of their own journey because, although there will be a shortfall, there will be a grant.

“It is the difference between the grant and the true rebuild costs is really what people need to understand. In some cases that difference is very, very substantial and they will not be in a position to put themselves back in the shoes they stood in before defective blocks were laid in their home. Whatever the ultimate grant, this is the only way homeowners and property owners can make up the difference in the grant and the replacement cost of their home,” said Mr Coleman.

Dave Coleman acknowledged that paramount in people's minds when they are dealing with lawyers is, 'Are there risks on costs?'

He added: “The primary risk on costs rests with the Lead Plaintiffs and their costs are being underwritten on a not for profit basis, in order to comply with Irish law. We have come to agreement with each of our Lead Plaintiffs on this and the chances of any small fees incurred by the State being sought against the non Pathfinder/Lead Cases are negligible.

“The Lead Cases are being taken in the public interest and the courts will have been saved the task of administering several hundred or more than a thousand cases and we have advices to that effect. So, we are quite comfortable that people are not signing themselves into even a small legal bill. However, even if they were, it is a small legal bill and relative to the gains of participation in the case, it is of course incomparable to what people may achieve.

“One thing that people need to bear in mind is, the clock is running against people and by this I mean, although people may only be finding out now they have Mica in their homes, it could be open to a court to say, 'Well, you have known about the problem for many years and the fact that you failed to test should not be a Defendant's problem'.

“We just need to be very careful that people understand clearly that inactivity is not the way to go here. We have plenty of people lining up for the case. I say this to encourage as many people as possible to join the case. I know it is very tough for people at the moment but inactivity may prejudice people in their ability to bring a case after 2022. We are urging people to avoid that risk,” said Mr Coleman.

If people have queries on costs or time, Dave Coleman encouraged them to make an appointment to come to the Inishowen Gateway.

“Our team will be happy to explain all to them,” he. “A lot of people have come forward recently and they shared their test results from their houses with us. The sharing of these results makes it much easier for our experts in a very positive way to assess the general nature of the damage throughout the county and to place responsibility for it where it ought to lay.

“We encourage more people to come forward with their test results, as it is extremely helpful to their case and the overall body of cases, as it builds up a picture that is very, very difficult to overturn.

“I know there will be a look back on the legal case and how it went and what people did or did not do, and what I would say now to people is, 'You either light a candle or curse the darkness' because time will run out and you will not be in a position to recover your losses.

“It is a call to arms for people. It is important for those joining the case that they understand that, as against the State, they have equality of arms and parity of esteem. This is a highly, highly resourced case. We have eight lawyers working on it. We know what we are doing and we intend to take this through the courts to get people the best possible chance of vindicating their own rights in a group setting, where they have security in numbers,” said Dave Coleman.

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